Murkowski and Sullivan diverge on border security package, but remain united in support for military spending

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Feb. 8—Alaska's Republican U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan have for months insisted that military aid for Ukraine and other U.S. allies should be paired with funding for border security.

But after weeks of negotiations led to a deal that included border security measures demanded by Republicans, most senate Republicans — including Sullivan — voted against the package, leaving Murkowski as one of only four Senate Republicans to vote in favor of the package.

Murkowski called the Senate's inability to advance a border security package "an abject failure."

"Republicans have rightfully raised the southern border as a priority for months, and I'm bitterly disappointed that we wouldn't even agree to debate the bill that we demanded which leaves us stuck with the status quo," Murkowski said in a statement.

[Murkowski, Sullivan among Senate Republicans voting with Democrats to advance Ukraine-Israel package after border deal falls]

Murkowski called the package that included the border security provisions "imperfect" but said the amendment process could provide "a path to improve a negotiated product."

"We're supposed to be the world's greatest deliberative body. We're supposed to legislate in response to crises and emergencies. But instead of legislating on matters of importance to the country, we have given in to the politics of the moment," Murkowski said.

Sullivan, explaining his decision to vote against the measure, cited many of the reasons brought up by other Republicans, including that he did not trust the Biden administration to adhere the provisions that Republicans had demanded, and that senators were given "inadequate" time to review the deal before it was brought to a vote.

In a statement posted Wednesday on social media, Sullivan said "Biden has refused to act and use the tools already at his disposal" to address border security.

"This bill appears to give broad discretion to the president, leaving open the possibility that President Biden will not secure the border as intended by this bill. Indeed, the last three years are strong evidence that he won't," Sullivan said.

On Thursday, both senators voted in favor of advancing a bill that would provide billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan — without any border provisions attached.

In a radio interview, Sullivan said the military spending would be "a gigantic investment in our military industrial base," citing $50 billion included in the bill that would go toward U.S. military manufacturing. Sullivan said the U.S. ability to manufacture weapons "has atrophied in a dangerous way."

"This should be named the national security industrial base renaissance bill," he said.

In a video posted Thursday on social media, Sullivan said he intended to attempt to amend the military aid package to strip out "non-lethal" aid for Ukraine. The bill includes $10 billion in humanitarian aid.

"Let the Europeans do that. We should be about military, lethal aid," Sullivan said.

Explaining her vote in favor of the military spending bill, Murkowski said "the world is looking to America to lead, and we must keep our promises to our allies to help maintain global order and security."

"The Senate hasn't met the moment, but we can still help our allies, which is why I will be working with my colleagues to advance this foreign aid package as soon as possible," Murkowski said.